Dark Claw Adventures #1 (June, 1997)
“Face to Face”
Writer/Breakdowns – Ty Templeton
Finishes – Rick Burchett
Colors – Linda Medley
Letters – Tim Harkins
Associate Editor – Darren Vincenzo
Editor – Scott Peterson
Special Thanks – Dan Slott
Cover Price: $1.95
We’ve brushed up against the Marvel/DC co-promotions of the late-1990’s from time to time here at the ol’ blogstead… but never actually discussed an honest to goodness Amalgam comic.
And there’s a reason for that…
I wasn’t (and I’m still not) a fan of ’em! We’ll ramble on about why in the “down below”… but, for now… heeeeeeeere’s Dark Claw!
We open with Patch Malone taking in his weekly poker game with a bunch of nogoodniks. He doesn’t get to play long as he’s approached by a pair of Cyber-Ninja Assassins… and before we know it, a fight is on. During the fracas, Logan is shot in the shoulder… however, he manages to win the day. Ya see, Dark Claw ain’t no killer… but since these creeps are mostly-machine, he doesn’t have to worry so much about holding back.
After taking care of business, he heads outside where his Clawmobile (don’t call it that!) is waiting for him. In the driver’s seat is, Sparrow… an amalgamation of Robin and Jubilee.
As the heroes take off into the night, we can see that their progress is being tracked by a woman called Lady Talia, an amalgamation of Lady Deathstrike and Talia al Ghul. Ya see, she’s ticked off at Logan for the murder of her father… wait for it… Ra’s-a-pocalypse.
We flash back to a desert duel between Logan and Ra’s… that has something to do with a scorpion, but it’s not really clear exactly what. Anyhoo, while Ra’s-a-pocalypse makes his exit via jet, Logan grabs a conveniently-placed bazooka… and blasts the baddie out of the sky.
While Lady Talia admires her new Adamantium limbs, we shift scenes over to “The Burrow”, which is, naturally, kinda like Dark Claw’s Batcave. One neat touch is, instead of the giant penny, there’s a giant Canadian Nickel.
Logan deduces that it’s Lady Talia who’s after him, and suits up for action. In order to prepare for battle, he initiates a training sequence in the Danger Cave, an amalgamation of… oh, you know. He faces off against the Two-Faced Goblin (Harvey Osborn), Cybercroc (Cyber + Killer Croc), Bloodcrow (Bloodscream + Scarecrow), Spiral Harley (oh, c’mon), and the Omega Beast (Omega Red + K.G.Beast).
Suddenly, the lights turn out. Dark Claw assumes that this is just the next stage of his training… that Sparrow kicked it up a notch… but, no… it’s Talia. She claims that she knows him well enough to use his secrets in order to find him. As the wrestle around, Dark Claw pleads with her to cool off… Ra’s gave him no choice but to kill him.
Finally, she backs off long enough for him to plead his case. He begs her to control herself, and expresses how important she is to him. Then he holds his hands out, and tells her that whatever her next move might be… he’s not going to stop her. And so, she guts him!
As Logan lay dying, Talia heads over to Sparrow… she chooses to spare her, as she’s nothing more than an innocent.
In her final act, Lady Talia decides she’ll plunge her claws into her own heart… the only part of her that she still considers human. Before she does so, however, she soliloquizes about how much she regrets everything that’s gone on between she and Logan over the past few years… and what she wouldn’t do to have him back with her now. Uh, lady, are you really forgetting about the healing factor?!
Oh course dude ain’t really dead. Talia rushes to his side, and they make nice.
Unfortunately, nobody ever untied Sparrow. Some say she’s still there to this day.
You familiar with “strain theory”? For a quick ‘n dirty, it’s a sociological concept having to do with why crimes might be committed… has to do with classism and racism, and it’s predicated on the assumption/perception that resources (material/tasks/opportunities/capital) are limited. The “strain” is on resources, which leads folks to do whatever they can (legal or not) to get those resources. Ya follow?
Now, to completely bastardize and trivialize the subject, I can’t help but consider talented creators and popular characters to be (relatively) limited “resources”. I look back at the late-90’s as a very small window where Marvel and DC were willing to “play nice” and put equal amounts of “skin” in the game in order to create something special. And what we get… is this.
Naturally, I’m not talking about crimes being committed or anything… but, look at the “resources”: the talent involved in Amalgam… and look at the wonderful characters. This is really the best we can do? We get all the big brains at Marvel and DC together in a room, and “Hey, let’s just mash ’em up!” is the best idea that comes out of it?
Amalgam Comics, while perhaps still to this day a novelty to some, and I’m only speaking for myself here, just reeks to me of a missed opportunity. Nothing more than a throwaway to fill a Fifth-Week, when (theoretically) any other kind of Marvel and DC co-promotion could’ve meant so much more. I mean, this looks like it took the same amount of care as Marvel Mangaverse… or Marvels Comics… just low-effort fluff. Time and shelf-filler… the fulfillment of a contract.
I compare it now to the DC/Looney Tunes or DC/Hanna-Barbera crossovers. Meaningless books that occupy creators and shelf-space that could be better used. I’ll concede that they make for really good “retweet bait”, but really… to me, with the “limited resources” we have, it’s such misdirected effort. Heck, maybe I’m just “anti-fun”. I’ve been accused of that a time or two.
With all that being said… it’s hard to be objective about something like Dark Claw Adventures. For what it is, it’s a “funny, ha-ha”, and not much more. The art is strong, and (naturally) evokes the Batman: The Animated Series style well enough. People who aren’t me, might get a giggle or two out of it.
Unfortunately, all I can do when I look at the Amalgam Age of Comics, is think: What could’a been. Of course, I’m coming at this as just a fan… I don’t know what the legalities were, or the logistics of “reprint rights” or anything like that… but, speaking as “just a fan”, I know I wanted something more special than this.